Robert L. Read
September 15, 2014
The American Rescue Corps
— by Robert L. Read
America should create a new uniformed branch of service that focuses on emergency rescues. Like the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard, there should be a Rescue Corps of the USA. The mission of the Rescue Corps is to maintain American leadership of the free world and promote American ideals by providing effective, life-saving assistance to the whole world on an unprecedented scale and rapidity.
On occasion, the military does this already. By doing so, they broaden and dilute the primary purpose of the military, which is to carry out war. The Rescue Corps would partially relieve the military of this burden by being staffed, trained, and equipped to better taken on rescue missions which require minimal security.
Let us imagine a Corps of 10,000 people—very small compared to our military forces. Let us further imagine that the Corps contains a trained staff whom we would normally think of as:
- Infectious disease experts,
- Fire fighters,
- Construction engineers,
- Logistics officers,
- Forensic scientists,
- Security personnel,
- Communication officers, and
- Transport specialists.
This permanent staff could be augmented by a Reserve, of course.
Let us further imagine that such a Corps utilizes commercial transport as well as military transport capability as its primary deployment capability. Now, imagine that backed by the prestige of the United States to obtain the right to deploy internationally, the Rescue Corps can quickly deploy to anywhere in the world.
If the Rescue Corps existed today the Ebola outbreak of 2014 would already be contained. The suffering caused by the earthquake in Haiti would have been greatly lessened. The hardship wrought by Hurricane Katrina might have been greatly reduced. The prestige of America would be greatly enhanced.
Such a corps could plan for and train for response to various catastrophes well in advance. We know that tsunamis and earthquakes will occur again. Probably wildfires in America will continue to be a problem. Hurricanes will strike America and our friends on the Caribbean periodically. Oil will spill. In all probability, a nuclear accident will occur again.
I don’t believe that the Rescue Corps would spend too much time sitting idle. Lesser emergencies that did not involve the entire Corps could be addressed and would be valuable training exercises and experience for the Corps.
Although the Corps might have a small police force to provide security, it would be very lightly armed by military standards. The United States might be able to negotiate entry for the Rescue Corps, perhaps ahead of time, in situations where the Marine Corps would not be welcomed. For example, Tehran is one of the largest cities on one of the most dangerous fault lines in the world. If we could pre-negotiate the entry of the Rescue Corps into Iran in the case of a major earthquake striking Tehran, the diplomatic benefits of a successful Rescue deployment might greatly exceed all of its costs.
Backed by the financial power of the USA, the Rescue Corps might purchase massive transport capabilities ahead of disasters via commercial transport. This would simply be good planning. In exchange for a retainer and fee in the event of a disaster, an airline might agree to interrupt service by reprioritizing a number of flights to transport thousands of Rescuers and their equipment to a disaster area. Such commercial contracts could be considered the primary means of deployment for some disasters in some areas, whereas military transport might be the primary deployment mechanism in other cases.
However, domestic deployment of the Rescue Corps might be more frequent than international deployment. Unquestionably, a reserve capacity at the national level of Rescuers can provide needed buffer capacity to local paramedics and firefighters in the event of locally overwhelming disasters.
By forcing our military to carry out non-war rescue missions, we dilute their training and weaken this primary purpose. By creating a Rescue Corps, we mitigate this problem and offer Americans a route of service to their country which is primarily about saving lives. The Rescue Corps would be a powerful force for good in the world, and a powerful force for American diplomacy.
Robert L. Read